The issues that schools face today are very different than the issues many of us faced when we attended school. With the increased reports of school shootings, school safety is a key concern. The safety and security of students was the main focus of the special Mount Gilead school board meeting on January 21, 2014.
Board member Joey Powell is the board’s legislative liaison. He shared that at the conference he attended they discussed HB215, the School Security bill. “With four school shootings this past week, I thought this would be good to talk about.” Powell explained that the bill passed the Ohio house in December and is currently in the senate. He shared that this bill would allow the board of education to enter into an agreement with a volunteer who is a current or retired law enforcement officer to patrol the premises to prevent or respond to a mass casualty event and provide the board and volunteer from liability and to provide a tax credit. “It looks like the state recognizes that schools can’t afford to pay resource officers so they are offering a separate way. I am not saying we should go that way. I just wanted to make everyone aware and keep an eye on it.”
Superintendent Thompson noted that income tax levy failed in November. In December the board approved again a quarter percent income tax levy. He explained that there is a dire need for buses which are a huge cost. When revenue goes down it exacerbates the problems. The need now is even greater than it was in November. The original issues have not gone away; we have an aging bus line. Ten years is the approximate life of a bus. Two of the buses that were replaced were much older than ten years. It needs to become a normal routine to replace one or two buses every year.” Said Thompson. There are buses in service that have been patched and repaired numerous times to keep them on the road.
He shared that there are other issues that surface. Security is a huge concern. “There seems like there isn’t a week that goes by that there isn’t something going on that is very tragic in public schools, universities or shopping malls.” expressed Thompson.
We constantly have an eye on security and safety. There are costs involved in that. We have tackled some of those issues and made our facilities more secure. It is those kinds of things that we have to look at and they are not free.
Board vice president Virgil Staley commented “We need to get our word out more. We need to be more visible as a board to help people know what is going on. Ee have a tremendous need for security and buses and people didn’t understand that the last time.” He stated.
Parent Erin Kelty stated that she would like to work on the levy committee. The board thanked her and asked her to take the lead with the effort. Board member Jeff Sweeney stated that he felt that Kelty has a lot of good ideas and that the information comes best from other parents. Kelty shared that she had ideas for other parents who could help with the effort.
Board president Rhonda Graham shared her feelings about the need for the levy “How do you put cost on a child’s life in trying to prevent school shootings or preventing bus accidents?”
In other business the board was given a web presentation on Board Docs which is a cloud based solution to posting board documents on their website. They will have another presentation from another vendor at the next board meeting.
In other actions the board approved financial reports and the five year forecast, to abandon 2 buses from their inventory. These were buses that were replaced by two new buses.
The board approved the employment of Chelsea Brake, substitute teacher and Erin Brey, substitute aide.
The board appointed Keith Rogers to the Tri-Rivers Board of Education effective January 1, 2014 for a term of two years.
The board approved OSBA annual membership dues to the Ohio School Board Association from January – December, 2014 in the amount of $4,945.00. It was noted that the two most recent board members Joey Powell and Ed Kimmey had attended a recent training by OSBA specifically for new board members. Both Powell and Kimmey noted that it was a very informative training and they learned a great deal.
The board approved the proposal for Comfort Systems USA in the amount of $339,760.00. This is a much needed project to help with the controls and energy efficiency of the buildings, explained treasurer Trevor Gummere. It is a large expenditure but the board is losing money with the inefficiency of the heating system.
Music Boosters meets the first Monday of the month in the high school band room at 7:00 p.m. It was reported that the school needs to replace old instruments. Many of the instruments are very old and need constant repair. They are trying to figure out ways to raise funds to help buy new instruments.
PTO meets the second Monday of the month at the Park Avenue Elementary Library at 5:30 p.m. The PTO is exploring new ways to fund raise. Last year their plant sale conflicted a little with the junior class fundraiser. Erin Kelty reported that the track team is not selling mulch this year so perhaps they can do the mulch sale.
Athletic Boosters meet the fourth Monday of the month at the high school Auditeria at 7:00 p.m. They did not have a meeting last month.
FFA Alumni meets the first Monday of the month at the high school Ag Building at 7:00 p.m. Virgil Staley reported that the FFA had one of the biggest fundraisers with their fruit sale.
They raised about $7000. They are preparing the last Saturday in February for the Pancake Day at the convention center.
Gummere shared information about the tomorrow center. A report he received went showed a substantial increase in revenue from $650,000 to $1,100,000. Income is based on students for the year. Even though Seckel was not at the meeting Gummere wanted to commend her. “She is doing wonderful things and doing a wonderful job.” Gummere noted. He also thanked the PTO for their donation to the tomorrow center for $200.
Teacher Maureen Flora shared that students are really responding to getting some of the clubs back. She reported that there has been an excellent turn out for the philosophy club, the In The Know Team and Spanish club will hold their first meeting next week. “The students are very thankful.” She said.
The board went into executive session for in Accordance With ORC 121.22G1 – The appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion or compensation of a public employee or official, or the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee, official, licensee, or regulated individual and in Accordance With ORC 121.22G4 – Preparing for, conducting, or reviewing negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees concerning their compensation.
The next regular board meeting will be held Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at the board of education office.